Lean Gains experience–1 month progress report
Lean Gains experience–I’ve been at it a month, so it’s time for a progress report. Click ahead for workout stats, new progress photos, and lots of rambling–a very informal post, if you will.
I’m using intermittent fasting to get ripped. So far, I’m happy with my Lean Gains experience. For 4 weeks, I followed Martin Berkhan’s Lean Gains diet–the cut approach–with early morning fasted training. I followed a four-day split workout routine–chest/back, lower body, shoulders, and arms–and cycled my carbs depending on whether it was a workout or rest day. You can read the full caloric breakdown I followed and the reasoning behind it here.
I could go on about the mental/personal benefits forever. I have more clarity at work. It’s WAY more convenient to eat 1 or 2 large meals a day than 4-6 small ones. I’m more satisfied after said meals. I can cheat on my diet a little more without doing any damage. The fasting raises testosterone and is good for muscle growth. I’m not phased by emotional eating. I could go on, and on, and on. I talked about it as a potential cure for emotional eating here
First, as a refresher, here are my old progress pictures. This was before I started the slow carb diet. I I think I was roughly 210-220 lbs in this picture. I started closer to 225-230, but this is the earliest before picture I have.
5 months later, I lost about 50 pounds and looked like this. I was roughly 170 lbs. and 10% body fat here. Of course my scale could be underestimating the body fat by a bit.
I gained a little bit of muscle over the next 2-3 months. This is about 180 lbs/12% body-fat.
I read about Lean Gains, fasted with the workout plan above, and cut to this over 2 weeks. According to the scale, 175 lbs and 8% body-fat.
And 2 weeks later, tonight, I look like this. Not a huge difference, but improved definition, and the scale said 175 lbs/6.5% body-fat. This number seems a little low to me, but it could be because I have some loose skin (which I’m going to try to get rid of with cold showers, increased water intake, and sauna visits–I’ll let you know how that goes next month).
As Martin suggested for people who have to workout out very early in the morning, I took this BCAA supplement because I have to work out in the morning before work. It is best to fast during the morning hours, so working out in the evening is ideal if you’re fasting because of the importance of workout nutrition. The BCAA powder allows you to “put off” your post-workout feeding for a few hours without consequences. You should eat a large protein/carbs meal within an hour of working out otherwise.
We can see that I didn’t lose muscles during fasting–I actually think they have more definition. This is a common objection to fasting that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Another misconception is that training fasted harms your workout intesity. Not the case.
I followed 3 routines written by John Romaniello. He recently wrote a series of 15-minute workouts–one for the legs, shoulders, and arms. I created my own routine for the chest and back that had a similar set-up.
I performed 4 of each workout, with one or two days of rest in between depending on soreness. I’m going to tell you my best effort during my first attempt at some workouts, and then my best effort on the last attempt. Then I’ll tell you the percentage increase of weight and volume (repetitions multiplied by weight lifted). I’m going to go through my increases in two workouts–I want you to understand the importance of progress tracking for success and motivation, but I don’t want you to doze off either.
A Bent-over Barbell Rows–workout 1: 8 reps with 105 lbs–840 total lbs lifted
workout 4: 7 reps with 135 lbs–945 total lbs lifted
percentage increase: 29% weight increase/13% volume increase
B Barbell Bench Press–1: 8×95 lbs–760 total
4: 8×105 lbs–840 total
% increase: 11% weight/11% volume
C1 Incline dumbbell chest press– 1: 12×35 lbs–420 total
4: 12×40 lbs–480 total
% increase: 15% weight/14% volume
C2 Close-grip lat pulldowns–1: 15×100–1,500 total
2: 15×110–1,650 total
% increase: 10% weight/10% volume
D1 Seated wide grip cable row–1: 12×100–1,200 total
4: 10×110–1,110 total
As you see, I pretty much failed on this lift–but in my defense, I think I had poor form the first week and corrected it, and this brought my weight down. But I wanted to be honest about my figures, so I’m giving you week 1. Keep in mind I probably had bad form during week 1, and probably should have been using 90 lbs for this weight.
D2 Decline push ups–1: 10×175(body-weight)–1,750
% increase: 20% increase in work volume
A1 Squats–1: 5×155–775 total
4: 5×180–900 total
% increase: 16% weight/16% volume
A2 Jump Squats (as many as possible in one minute)–1: 25
% increase: 60% work increase
Also of note on jump squats–I performed 4 sets of these as instructed by Roman. 2 sets of 60 seconds, 2 sets of 30 seconds. In workout 1, I finished a grand total of 77 reps. In workout 4, I finished 115. This is a 49% increase in TOTAL reps over all 4 sets.
This workout also included a similar set-up with calf raises–I improved here, but I don’t think anyone really cares. Go read Roman’s article, because it IS a killer workout. The only time I remember being more tempted to cut off my legs was the first time I did heavy squats. Be ready to be sore.
Like I mentioned, I already wrote a blog with my full caloric breakdown when I started this plan. If you want to know what diet I followed, check that out. I’m going to increase my intake for the purpose of a “slow bulk”–gradually putting on muscle with limited fat. I’m adding about 500 calories to rest days and 300 to my workout days. I’ll still be in a small deficit of 100-200 calories on rest days, but in surplus about 500-600 on training days. I may need to change this range later and will monitor my progress with weekly weigh-ins and pictures to keep myself accountable.
If you ever find yourself in this situation, the easiest way to “add calories” is eat larger portions of what you’re doing. I’m going to get a gallon of whole milk and buy larger cuts of pork and beef to get more fat on rest days and increase my servings of rice and oatmeal to get more carbs on rest days. This way, I can keep my diet convenient so I’m more likely to comply.
Now I’m going to follow another routine by John Romaniello–a back specialization routine. This body part is lagging behind others. I’ve finally got the hang of chin-ups, but still suck horribly at pull-ups, so I hope this will help a brother out. I’d also love to have a buff back to show off in time for my fiancee and I’s cruise–about 6 weeks from now. I’m also going to do some things in an attempt to get rid of some loose skin–cold showers, sauna, and increased water intake.
By the way, if you’re curious, this is the end body composition goal for me. When I look like this, I’ll be ecstatic.
I’ll be back with another progress update in a month or so.
That’s my Lean Gains experience so far. How are your diet and workout program going? Any updates? Do you have any questions about what I did? What is holding you back? What do you want to read about?
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